2023 CO-AGE Legislative Results
GCOA, CO-AGE, and our partners worked hard this legislative session. CO-AGE members sent action alerts, wrote letters to their local newspapers, and reached out to legislators to ask for support on aging issues. See the legislative results for 2023 below.
FY 2024 Budget Wins: $5 Million in Funding for Home & Community Based Services
HB 19, the State’s FY2024 budget, was approved and now awaits the Governor’s signature. Both the House and Senate allotted a generous $5,464,800 Million for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS). This will remove thousands of older Georgians off the waiting list, helping them to continue aging in place and out of long-term care prematurely. The budget also includes a cost-of-living salary increase for state employees, benefitting workers in the Division of Aging Services and other departments that provide HCBS.
Improvements to Assisted Living Communities
The CO-AGE advocacy team will continue to work with the Georgia Department of Community Health and other partners in the interim to identify the most efficient way to bring the Improvements to Assisted Living Communities priority to fruition. Continued research may reveal that additional legislation is not necessarily needed to allow Medicaid in assisted living communities but that the priority could possibly be achieved within the context of existing laws and regulations. This priority has been tabled for the time being.
While CO-AGE supports the use of telehealth for dentistry to reach underserved seniors, the manner in which it will happen legislatively is still in discussion between the dental community, bill sponsors, and the advocacy team. The two pieces of legislation that were drafted for Teledentistry did not move. The issue gained enough traction this year that there is a good chance that it will be reconsidered next year. This priority is still in development.
The CO-AGE advocacy team will work with the Georgia Employee’s Retirement System in a collaborative research effort to gain more insight into how an independently funded retirement plan like the Work and Save program would work for the Peach State. As a result, bill language will then be drafted to hopefully move the issue forward next year.
Work and Save Program
Study Committee to Expand Nursing Home Options
The 2022 CO-AGE priority to create a study committee to expand long term care options was back in the spotlight this year as HR 141. Thank you to Representative Lee Hawkins for keeping the momentum going on this issue! Plans are underway to convene a summer Study Committee by the House Health Committee on this priority.
Other Legislation of Interest to Seniors:
SB84- The Senior Protection from Exploitation Against Retirees (SPEAR) Act – This bill brought forth by the Secretary of State's Office aims to protect against elder financial exploitation. It will call for financial institutions to delay the processing of an unusual transaction on a vulnerable senior's account if fraud is suspected. SB 84 is ready to be signed by the Governor.
Senator Emanuel Jones secured $100,000 in the amended FY 2023 budget for Georgia State University's Project Healthy Grandparents in honor of his constituent and close friend, GCOA's beloved Council member, Lorene Lindsey. The mission of Project Healthy Grandparents is to support families in which grandparents are raising children in parent-absent homes. Mrs. Lindsey was a staunch advocate for seniors across the state for many years.